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Realistic view of chances to get into a structured PhD program


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Hi everyone,

I am new to this Forum and I would like to get some honest advice on my chances of getting into a structured PhD program and/or what useful steps I can take to improve my chances through extra courses (e.g. summer school) or a further degree (2nd M.Sc. degree).

I have attached my current academic CV which will enable you to get a mini summary of my academic experience and background without me having to type a long novel here.

Goal: Structured PhD in Applied Statistics, Data Science or Business Analytics; preferably with coursework (American style of PhD programs as opposed to project and research project based approach in most of Europe with very few exceptions); preferably fully funded (full ride scholarship; which is not the case in the UK - according to my knowledge, you have to pay tuition even as a PhD student)

Type of schools targeted: more quantitatively oriented department at an American Business School or a more applied Stats department; geographic preferences: US, Canada or Europe

Previous efforts: I sent out 7 PhD applications in December 2020 and received 6 rejections and 1 stage one interview for the Michigan Ross Technology and Operations PhD program but didn't get an offer.  Schools I applied to: UT Austin (Information, Risk and Operations Management), UCLA (Stats), USC (Data Science and Operations), Bocconi University (Stats and Computer Science), University of Michigan (Stats and Technology and Operations), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Stats and Operations Research).

Background: B.Sc. in Economics and Business Administration, M.Sc. in Advanced Economics and Finance, substantial coding experience in R and Python, emphases in Econometrics , Statistics; M.Sc. Thesis on the Application of Neural Networks and Ensemble Methods to Time Series Forecasting

Test scores: GRE - Q159, V149; I have tried to take it twice and I have accepted this score range as final; I do not want to take this test ever again; TOEFL: 110 (valid until next year)

Ideas to improve my competitiveness: Summer School in Real Analysis (planned for July this year); 2nd degree in Management and Technology with a Computer Science major at a Technical University in Europe (I have finished 3/4 of the coursework but I have the impression that the grades are merely average and that those grades will rather hurt my chances than improve them

Any advice is very welcome. I would like to move on next Fall at the very latest and I have one last PhD application season starting this Fall during which  I could give my PhD plans another shot.

Open Questions:

  • Are my aspirations even realistic or am I more confined to the field that I have received my degrees in (Economics)? I know that my chances would be much higher in that field but I would really like to transition.
  • Should I continue this 2nd technical Master's degree even if the grades are rather average?
  • Are summer research experiences or cold approach email contacting efforts another important way to make personal contacts with faculty that make a difference in the end?

Thank you very much in advance.





Edited by WannabePhDstudent
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